Under half of UK workers have access to Occupational Health (OH) services, despite the fact that every year over 170 million days are lost to illness.
A report published by the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) found that only 45 per cent of UK workers have access to OH advice and facilities.
This lack of OH is coinciding with a time which sees 1.4 million workers suffering from work-related conditions. As well as the Government’s Black Review of the health of the working age population reporting the cost to the UK economy is estimated to be at £100 billion every year.
The report calls for the creation of a centralised body to give guidance in OH, the center would work with but be independent of other regulators.
Other recommendations the report suggested were greater support for businesses in assessing the economic benefit of OH interventions. Also a call for more investment from the Government, employers and the industry.
The SOM is calling for more investment in to OH in order to help rectify the current problems being faced by the service.
The report was researched and put together by Professor Ewan Macdonald OBE, head of the healthy working lives group at the University of Glasgow and his team. It was sponsored by both the SOM and the Health and Safety Executive.
Professor Macdonald said:
People are retiring earlier because themselves and their employers are not getting the skilled support and advice which can help people to work safely and longer.
At the same time, Professor Anne Harriss has been appointed president-elect of SOM. This being the first time the title has gone to a OH nurse instead of a doctor. This makes her the fourth woman to hold this position in the society’s 83-year history.
Professor Harriss’s appointment was made in June at the society’s annual general meeting and conference.